Public Prayer

Should El AL allow prayers on the P.A. system?

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Comments (42)

(34) DAS1951, January 7, 2014 4:16 PM

The Rabbi is Right

I have flown on many airlines, El Al included, in many places, and I think the Rabbi is right.
There is no place for any religious messages to be broadcast over the public address system.

As has been pointed out, the Traveller's Prayer is in the in-flight magazine and there is nothing to stop you bringing your own text or audio recording. Plus, if you are coming from outside Lod (which most people will be) then those who care will probably have said the prayer already when leaving home.

By the way El Al is not a Jewish airline undertaking a Jewish flight. It is a regular Israeli business and is the main airline of a secular state. Just because every Jew thinks he/she 'owns' it does not make it so.

Yes, it serves kosher food as a routine to cater easily for the bulk of its passengers, and it will serve Glatt kosher for those who are not happy with the standard food, but then just about every airline will provide kosher on demand, at least on longer flights.

I recall when preparing to land on a domestic flight in Pakistan the flight deck would announce "Inshallah we shall shorlty land in ...". I suppose the majority of the passengers thought nothing of it but my (admittedly not entirely serious) reaction was something like "what, is the captain consulting the Koran for landing instructions?"...

(33) LInda Robinson, January 3, 2014 11:03 AM

What's the big deal?

I get mildly irritated every time the stewardess explains to me how to close my seat belt.
I get REALLY annoyed when the co-pilot wakes me up to tell me what country we are flying over. Why is there no outcry over these announcements? Why are people soooooo irritated by a 3 minute prayer? What's wrong with a Jewish prayer on a Jewish airline flying to a Jewish state? I would actually find it quite comforting and don't understand why people are so irritated over it and why they can't just put their earplugs on. What's the big deal?

(32) Sarah Vorchheimer, December 30, 2013 12:50 PM

The Printed Option

Many years ago I flew El Al when leaving Israel (the only time I ever went overseas) and our little flight kit included a printed Tefillat Haderekh, including the bit for flying. That seemed totally appropriate. One could quietly and with full devotion say this tefillah, but the recitation was not forced upon anyone.

(31) Anonymous, December 30, 2013 5:10 AM

In Hashem's wings

Rabbi Salomon, I do respect your opinion about the recent complaints regarding prayers in the El Al plane. However, I fully agree with comment # 26 posted by Mr. B. A. Donnelly. A prayer to safeguard a trip while flying inside El Al should not offend anyone. If the offended look at the history of even the name El Al, they will find that the name El Al (two prepositions in Hebrew), came from the Bible and it means "upward"; "to the sky"; or interpreted as "God above". The name was inspired in September of 1948 when the newly established State of Israel launched its national airline with a single four engine C-54 military airplane for which they needed a name. They turned to the Bible for a name, and found "El Al" in a phrase in the book of Hosea (11.7), and were inspired by it. The prayer in the plane would complement the airline name itself and perhaps served as protection by Hashem during the trip, and for a safe and sound arrival of its people to its destination, whether they were Jewish or not. A prayer should always be embraced and welcome in EL AL. Those who would not like to pray for safety and for Hashem guidance to the pilots who are responsible of carrying hundreds of peoples under their wings, do not need to participate in the prayers if they do not want to, but they should not be bothered by it either. "V'ami tlu'im l'meshuvati, v'el al yikra'uhu yahad lo yeromem." ("And my people are bent to backsliding from me; although they called them to [el] the most High [al], none at all would exalt him"). Thank you very much Rabbi Salomon for a truly interesting topic.

Devorah, December 31, 2013 5:05 AM

Agree w/#31

I agree with #31. It is hard to imagine that a SMALL prayer like the wayfarer's prayer could cause so much dissension. WOW!!! It reminded me that Hashem commanded us to be separate and a light unto the nations. It also reminded me that H- does like prayer and wants us to be DIFFERENT. Prayer makes us different. I wonder what Hashem would think? Wouldn't a MINION be better than one praying? Wouldn't collective voices be better than one praying? I don't think we have to cave in to the demands of the few. Maybe if we tore down the high places we would see a greater outpouring of Hashem's Light and Presence giving us GREATER protection, clearing away the danger from the borders, the push button wars, anti-Semitism and dissension amongst ourselves. May Hashem be EXALTED EVERYWHERE!!! :)

(30) Hal Safran, December 29, 2013 4:12 PM


some people would like to say it but don't know the prayer or even know that there is one. How about an audio channel that would have it that anyone could tune to if they wish. There could be a brief announcement mentioning it is available on that channel.

(29) Beverly Lawrence, December 28, 2013 7:11 PM

I agree with you completely. Forget about the non Jews.
we have Jews have always keep our prayers quiet except in the
place of worship and in our hearts. When I work at at certain schools I would hear the prayer for Jesus and at the end they used to give balls and different toys with his name on it. To me that was so tacky. Can you imagine throwing HASHEM'S name in the dirt. I am glad that they removed it, but a reminder may be helpful.

(28) Mati, December 28, 2013 4:57 PM

nice way to lead observance

Personally, I like the prayer...but I think those against it and the rabbi are all correct too.

(27) John Michael, December 28, 2013 12:58 PM

Non Jewish

Dear Friends I am non Jewish and If were to one day fly with EL AL I would personally welcome It and find soothing

(26) Brian A.Donnelly, December 28, 2013 3:25 AM

Get with the programme…..

Hi Yaakov,
I certainly DO NOT agree with your demure approach to prayer - you know that G-d has chosen the Jewish people to be the light of the World -and in a Spiritual sense that also means enlightening people to the importance and relevance of prayer -anywhere;anyplace and anytime.
Let has have the courage of our commitment to G-d and demonstrate our obedience, as detailed in the Shema ( Deuteronomy 6:7 )
Brian A.Donnelly

(25) Jose Manuel dos Santos, December 28, 2013 3:17 AM

Pray in your haert

Prayer is always good, amen!
Than let us all do it? That is a good wish, but now a days there are a lot of secular travelers also, as everywhere in community.
So let the prayers of our hearts also be for them, they need G-d also. Keep looking UP! Thumbs up for Rabbi Yaakov Salomon.

(24) JettaJ, December 28, 2013 3:03 AM

Not appropriate?

How could it not be appropriate? Everyone on the airline is traveling! A Jewish prayer on a Jewish airline going to a Jewish state must usually have a preponderance of Jewish passengers.
As my blessed mother-in-law ( may she rest) was wont to say,
"What could it hurt?"

(23) Petra, December 28, 2013 2:53 AM

Why so fearful? It isnot a curse!

(22) michael swanger, December 27, 2013 9:57 PM

EL AL should say the prayer

I disagree with the rabbi on this one. This is a Jewish airline and I see absolutely nothing base about a small prayer being said for several reasons. #1. It re-enforces in the people's minds this is a Jewish flight and not a gentile trip #2it should be small and in Hebrew #3 It reminds people there is a G-D and for a few moments draws our thoughts to that fact.#4 as a side note, do the Islamic airlines say a prayer to Allah? If so, do the passengers have a choice to listen? I think not.

(21) Dennis, December 27, 2013 7:55 PM

Captain should

In my career as an Airline Captain, now retired, I often invoked Gods blessing in my "thank you for traveling with us address." The very occasional negative comment was overwhelmingly balanced by positive comments. I allways, I think, prayed before fligh, quietly. Would have liked to have done it over the PA, but management would not have it.

(20) Larry Zack, December 27, 2013 7:51 PM

Prayer on Planes

I agree with Rabbi Salomon. If you want to say it, fine--go right ahead. Religious affiliated airline or not, I should not be subjected to hearing something I do not want to listen too (I would feel the same if some other airline decided to have a religious prayer recited over the P.A. system). Elal is an airline not a synagogue.

(19) tom42, December 27, 2013 5:18 PM

Don't like the idea.

Sounds like a catholic or muslim thing, forced prayer.

(18) Adam Z, December 27, 2013 4:15 PM

I suggest a compromise

Don't play haTefillat haDerech over the loudspeaker, but provide a printed copy at each seat, along with the obligatory handouts showing where the various escape routes are, etc. That way, if someone wishes to read the prayer, and doesn't happen to have it handy, then there it is. Or, perhaps, someone who might not otherwise read the prayer will decide to do so upon seeing it. And, if they'd rather not be bothered, then it's hardly being imposed upon them over the loudspeaker.

(17) Anonymous, December 27, 2013 4:05 PM

One more thing ...

I'm also not against a copy of The Traveler's Prayer being put discretely with the magazines etc. in front of every seat.

Aliza, December 30, 2013 9:33 AM

It is in the magazine

The Tefilat Haderech - traveler's prayer - is in the El Al magazine, found in every seat. It's in English and Hebrew.

(16) Suzanne, December 27, 2013 4:02 PM

I think you are correct, Rabbi

Another probable reason why people were none too happy to hear The Traveler's Prayer on their El Al flight is because they feel it is yet another jab against their lifestyles thrown at them courtesy of the hard line religious establishment in Israel. The "black hat" or Haredi encroachment upon people's lives and choices has angered many Jews around the world as well as their refusal to work or join the IDF. Like you, rabbi, I'm not at all against prayer, being very traditional/orthodox in my beliefs, I often whisper a prayer myself before take off or landing in an airplane but I feel that it should be an optional and private matter. In conclusion, my guess is that if this Traveler's Prayer business was the only time we had ever heard from the "Black Hats", people would have been a lot more receptive to it - or felt that it was a kind of sweet reminder that they were traveling to the Holy Land. However, the religious/Haredi establishment in Israel have been way too crazy for way too long on so MANY, MANY issues that the rank and file Jewish people have had it up to here with them.

(15) Anonymous, December 27, 2013 3:40 PM

It is possible to have BOTH

As a Phd in Aeronautical Engineering and a Pilot
Plus "half dati and half Hiloni", I believe technology
could give both options: an example
You would see in the screen in front of you:
Would you like to pray the Tfilat Ha Derech....?
if Y then you would see a video.......and in the video
they would explain you need to repeat the prayer after
the person in the video so you fulfill it.

Simple and a perfect Balance

(14) Sara Friedman, December 27, 2013 2:45 PM

With all due respect to Rabbi Salomon, and I have a lot of respect for him, I disagree with what he says on this video. I don't think El Al is doing anything wrong by having Tefillas HaDerech on the PA system. If you're taking off this announcement, take off all other announcements. people will listen to any and all announcements on a plane as they choose to do. Just like people ignore the safety announcements, they will ignore Tefillat HaDerech. I don't think this is forcing ANYTHING on ANYONE. And what about the people who, like me, sometimes pack their siddur in their checked-in luggage, or it is in their carry-on in the overhead bin and they can't get to it when it is the proper time to say Tefillas HaDerech. It's not hurting anyone to have Tefillas HaDerech recited over the loudspeaker. And, "Mordy," if I remember correctly, there is nothing wrong with having Teffilas HaDerech said over the loudspeaker, especially if it helps other people. I like your suggestion of having a magnet or some kind of card on the back of the seat in front of you; maybe El Al could make an announcement over the loudspeaker reminding people to say Tefillas HaDerech, maybe at the same time that they make the other safety announcements. I don't think there is a perfect solution, but I DO think that El Al should do something with Tefillas HaDerech on their flights. After all, they ARE a Jewish airline.
Rabbi Salomon, I hope I did not disrespect you in any way with this comment; I do think that you have many wonderful things to say and offer. Yasher Koach!

(13) Michal, December 27, 2013 2:10 PM

I could not say it better

...than the Rabbi said it.

(12) Alan C., December 27, 2013 1:54 PM

Who does Prayer hurt or disturb?

How does Prayer hurt or disturb anyone? The current concept of being "politically correct" (PC) is taken to the extreme.
A short prayer over a PA system on an aircraft is a good thing. Enough of PC !!!

(11) Alan schwartz, December 27, 2013 1:13 PM

No public prayer display!

Please El Al stay a good airline. Do not force people who are held captive in their seats to ,isten to anything other than safety instructions!
No publuc prayer recitals please!

(10) Frank Adam, December 27, 2013 1:06 PM

Modern sense at last

I was delightedly surprised to hear Rabbi Salomon disapprove of pushing the Travellers' Prayer at everybody over the PA system. It is just his school prayers attitude, "establishments of religion" bad manners that has done so much harm to religion in theses two late centuries. For corroboration look at the way screwing ultra tight the regulation of marriage, divorce and burial has alienated a large section of the Israeli population against a particular variant of being Jewish. Lamenting assimilation in the Diaspora could start with a good dose of self review and self criticism in Diaspora rabbinates. Start with the Halacha that if a couple settle in town as bona fide Jews behaving correctly by all usual appearances then it is forbidden to seek out queries to disrupt the household. The excessive efficiency of modern record keeping has a lot to answer for. Just remember Nelson's "Hardy, I have a right to be blind sometimes," and leave to God to make the final judgements.

(9) liz, December 27, 2013 12:58 PM

good decision

I thought the Traveller's Prayer should be said when travelling outside your city's limits. Bearing this in mind, many people will have already said it before they get on the plane. It was a good decision to remove the recording.

(8) frquenttrvlr, December 27, 2013 12:51 PM

A prayer I didn't know existed.

In all of my 63 years, living with an orthodox wife, I have never heard of Tefilat HaDerech. I know she has never said it either (and she would have if she knew of it.) I will now go see the Rabbi and ask him for a copy. I certanily will say it. Maybe if I say it when I board an airplane, G-d will respond by putting at least two more inches between my seat and the one in front of me? No...that's too much to pray for!

(7) David, December 27, 2013 12:48 PM


Mandatory public prayers are generally distinguished only by insincerity. People should say this prayer if it means something to them; it might even be nice if El Al were to hand out little cards with this prayer on them (although I'm not sure what my reaction would be before a flight if I were told to start praying). Still, broadcasting it only cheapens it.

(6) charles richman, December 27, 2013 12:46 PM

yes, prayer is fine and should be allowed on El Al

In flying to Israel frequently we do NOT pray in our seat for Maariv in the evening or laining Tephillin for Shachrit in the morning. We, a minyan, stands in the back of the plane for prayer; it is public and it is not in our seat. I look at this question from the viewpoint that El Al should only serve Kosher meals, as they do, which is not done on other airlines (although you can ask for kosher on most airlines); this is our airline (El Al), should also not fly on Shabbat or on the Yom Tavin.

(5) Meira Shana, December 27, 2013 12:22 PM

Not on El Al but ...

... also not by Christians everywhere they go and all non-Christians are subjected to their religion much more often!!

I think you're right - if El Al takes people of all kinds onboard, then respect should be afforded each and all.

Besides, Jews are supposed to be NOT like others! Says so in the Tanakh.

Every tennis tournament and football, baseball, basketbal game I am subjected to Christians crossing themselves -- enough already. Save that for your silent prayers and in your private space.

Jews are different ... G-d said we are and should be - and those who don't want us to be different so they kill us, let them take a different airline. Perhaps Vatican Air.

(4) Ivor Markman, December 27, 2013 9:01 AM

Airline Prayers

Maybe the Prayer for a Safe Journey could be played over one of the audio channels which passengers can select if they so wish.
A public announcement could be made before the prayer is recited and those passengers who wish to participate can put on a headset and hear it. Those who don't want to hear it are not forced to participate.

(3) E. Dian Cantrell, December 24, 2013 1:40 AM

I Agree

G'd allows choice. Why do so many people forget this fact...G'd allows CHOICE.

Alan schwartz, December 27, 2013 1:18 PM


1. You do not speak for god.
2. You choose to pray privately = wonderful
3. I choose peace and quiet and not be held captive in my seat while someone blabbles a prayer or some such.
4. Stop foisting religious practices on others!
Thanx for listening

(2) Lisa, December 22, 2013 12:39 PM

It's fantastic!

It's 3 minutes out of a 10 hour don't like it? Then it's time for your earbuds!!
I heard it once from an Egged bus driver & was immediately calmed...especially while going 80 mph downhill !!

(1) Mordy, December 22, 2013 11:00 AM

Not Thought Out

I'm sure El Al's rabbi had the best intentions, but he didn't think this through. A recorded voice saying Tefilat HaDerech (The Travelers' Prayer) will not accomplish anything. In order to fulfill one's obligation, one either must say it oneself or hear from a live human being. A better method would be to put on the back of every seat a magnetic Tefilat HaDerech. In Judaism, one either does it the right way, or doesn't do it at all.

Lisa, December 22, 2013 1:59 PM

A recorded voice can be a great reminder to read it to yourself!!

" Or dont do it at all"? A bit extreme, yes? For example, one can & should pray , even without kavana, bc one day you will have kavana!!

Mordy, December 23, 2013 3:51 AM

No Reminder Needed

Any one who says the Travelers' Prayer will say it without a reminder. Those who don't say it will be more irritated by its public recording than prodded to say it. Regarding kavana, outwardly, the mitzvah must be performed according to all the rules of the halacha, even though inwardly, one may not have the right kavanah. I was talking about the external requirements.

chaimss, December 27, 2013 1:54 AM

Judaism doesn't believe in all or nothing

I have to disagree with your last sentence. A very important premise in Judaism (and one that Aish espouses) is that Judaism ins't all or nothing. You do what you can, and you try to always grow, but just because you can't become a great Rabbi doesn't mean there's no point in studying, or that you shouldn't light Shabbos candles because you won't be fully keeping Shabbos anyway.

Ivor Markman, December 27, 2013 9:29 AM

Recorded Prayers

Audio recordings have only been around 80 years or so. Think about this: If someone had recorded Moses while he was leading the children of Israel in prayer and this recording somehow survived until the present day, would you listen to it and pray with him? Or would you still say "it doesn't accomplish anything." If the Torah had been an audio recording instead of a written document, would you join in with prayer when it was played?

Melissa, December 27, 2013 4:47 PM

i agree with you, Morty

For every Jew who doesn't say it or want to hear it, there will be a child Jew or Gentile who will discover a sense of safety and sacredness ... perhaps for the first time; don't assume its always a jew travelling to/from israel. This prayer contains gold nuggets... 'channukah gelt' for literally everybody. Calming the inner demons on a flight is better to learn from the spoken word than a bottle of wine or other beverage of choice to relax; ipods are great; but some people can't afford them for each child travelling, etc. I think the magnetic Tefilat HaDerek is a great idea...


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